all scores

How Angel City found its ‘identity’ during 11-game unbeaten streak

Angel City midfielder Savannah McCaskill takes a corner kick during the second half against the Orlando Pride at BMO Stadium. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports)

Angel City FC’s 11-game unbeaten streak came to an end Monday, leaving behind a team that has grown immensely over the course of the season.

The streak began when interim head coach Becki Tweed took over for Freya Coombe, who was fired by Angel City midway through the season. The streak started on June 17, with a 2-1 rivalry win against the San Diego Wave, and ended on Oct. 2, with a 1-0 loss to the Orlando Pride.

Even after their first loss in months, Angel City players sung Tweed’s praises for helping them to find their identity as a team.

“She’s made it super competitive, has uplifted us but also motivated us,” defender Paige Nielsen said. “Sets the right tone at training and it’s carried us to success.”

Midfielder Dani Weatherholt agreed, adding: “We’re developing an identity that I think is allowing us to play free and allowing us to be competitive in the league. I think before it was very unsure, and we got by with our grit and our fight in our heart, [now] you’re seeing more tactical awareness and more of an identity.”

Of course, players know it will take time to build a foundation on which the club can build. But Nielsen already is seeing “so much growth,” and she believes the mix of young players and veterans is promising for the future.

Their identity, she says, is “coming together.” And while it might be difficult to lose after going unbeaten for 11 straight, Tweed knows it’s a good learning moment for her team in the midst of the NWSL playoff race.

“It’s never easy to lose a game, especially at this point in the season where the table is so close,” she said. “What’s important for us is that we learn from it, we move on. I don’t think it’s a game where we’ve been outplayed. I don’t think it’s a game where we can walk away from it saying that we were beaten by the other team – we beat ourselves.

“Togetherness is now important. We move on from it and move into the next game. This league is wild, who knows what happens in the next two games, but we’re just going to do what we can do to be in control of what you can control.”

Two weeks remain in the NWSL regular season. Angel City sits in ninth place with 25 points, just three points out of the sixth and final playoff spot.